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Army doctrine and its Implementation

TangoTwoBravo

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I imagine most Canadian officers and Sr NCOs have either attended a Karber presentation, watched this or a similar video or read his paper written circa 2015. His work has had a lot of impact on training in the US and NATO. It was certainly part of our 2017 ARRCADE FUSION for a Corps/Div level warfighting exercise set in the Baltics. Some of it is "admiring the problem", but it is a useful counterpoint to Western experience of the last two decades of fighting COIN. Much of what he talks about relates to equipment and there are elements of his talk in the Force 2025 thread. The tension between the requirements of COIN and the requirements for peer conventional war is real, and is also nothing new. The US Army used a renewed Cold War as a way to get out of their post-Vietnam funk. The Russians (and Chinese) offer a similar foil today. Regarding modernity, even Karber links his study to the US Army study of the 1973 Yom Kippur War that was referred to earlier in this thread.

Warfighting against Russia would be incredibly bloody. I think this is known. Conventional combat can see battalions wiped out very quickly - the Gulf War showed this, as did WW2. I think that much of our warfighting doctrine is still set in the Cold War. US and NATO equipment spending and capability development has been primarily aimed at the COIN problem, but our doctrinal and indeed training comfort zone is heavy metal warfighting. We've strayed (using the royal NATO We), as Karber points out, in our peer combined arms capabilities over the past twenty years.

Looking at doctrine and implementation, I have certainly experienced the tension on operations and in training. Like most of my coursemates, I went on the Combat Team Commander's Course with two tours of Afghanistan as a Captain. When faced with a defined enemy platoon position we knew what the course wanted us to and dutifully went about it. Of course, we would offer that against such a defined position with the air supremacy that the training scenario offered we would simply drop two or three JDAMs. Why throw away lives? DARK21 will be by in 15 minutes with a load of 2000 lb JDAMs. Other courses face similar cognitive dissonance challenges. Do you make the air situation contested? OK, but then we are not training our officers to employ the means they would have had available in the war that we were actually sending them. On the other hand, Karber is absolutely right that dropping JDAMs in support of a combat team attack would not be an option against the Russians.

Dissonance between doctrine, past experience and the current experience faced by tactical/operational decision-makers is nothing new. Reading BGen Thompson's account of the Falklands War, he speaks of the Div wanting a "narrow thrust assault", while he favoured a more deliberate approach. He recounts "the battle was not being fought on the plains of North Germany by armoured units, so talk of narrow thrusts and swift follow-up to maintain momentum was academic."

How adaptable are we?
 

daftandbarmy

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Dissonance between doctrine, past experience and the current experience faced by tactical/operational decision-makers is nothing new. Reading BGen Thompson's account of the Falklands War, he speaks of the Div wanting a "narrow thrust assault", while he favoured a more deliberate approach. He recounts "the battle was not being fought on the plains of North Germany by armoured units, so talk of narrow thrusts and swift follow-up to maintain momentum was academic."

How adaptable are we?

Based on the training I did in the 80s & 90s (including the Cbt Tm Comd's Course, like you but years before), which looks alot like the training we're doing today, we may find that we are adaptable despite our training .....
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Based on the training I did in the 80s & 90s (including the Cbt Tm Comd's Course, like you but years before), which looks alot like the training we're doing today, we may find that we are adaptable despite our training .....
I think we have developed our mostly implicit understanding of how we fight before we are on the Combat Team Commander's Course. I think that "Phase Training/DP1", service as a junior officer in a unit and the Army Operations Course are the formative experiences. In the Cold War those three things were mostly aligned, putting aside that they were never really put into practice on operations. Since then there has been some dissonance between what is emphasized on courses (and major exercises) and what occurs on operations. I suppose it is just the "A War" vs "The War" debate, except that what people really mean by "A War" is a conventional fight in a 1989 mindset.
 

FJAG

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I would think it would be very difficult to teach a combat team commander's course these days. When I took mine we were deep into and mostly equipped for Cold War and learned and practiced how we would fight in Germany - everything fit together.

I'm not even sure how one designs such a course these days. Do you teach everything from COIN to peer warfare? Do you play notional or real establishments? It must be frustrating for both DS and students. I'm not sure what type of mind set we are creating in future leaders.

Having learned the 1970s and 1980s Cold War model I do know one thing - it's no more useful for a modern peer war than the 2000s Afghan experience is. Both require heavy adapting.

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TangoTwoBravo

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I would think it would be very difficult to teach a combat team commander's course these days. When I took mine we were deep into and mostly equipped for Cold War and learned and practiced how we would fight in Germany - everything fit together.

I'm not even sure how one designs such a course these days. Do you teach everything from COIN to peer warfare? Do you play notional or real establishments? It must be frustrating for both DS and students. I'm not sure what type of mind set we are creating in future leaders.

Having learned the 1970s and 1980s Cold War model I do know one thing - it's no more useful for a modern peer war than the 2000s Afghan experience is. Both require heavy adapting.

🍻
I don't know. Let's say Col Evil, a Bde Comd in V Corps was frozen in 1989 and revived today. For peer conflict I am not sure all that much has changed. The major combat systems have evolved, but the big ones from 1989 are still there (M1, Bradley, AH64, MLRS, M109/Paladin). GPS is certainly more widespread now, but it was coming of age then. UAVs are more prevalent today, but they were in use in 1989. Loitering munitions are certainly new I suppose. For all the talk about the ability of massed fires to destroy battalions in the open, that existed in 1989. The so-called "Reconnaissance Strike Complex" might be tighter today, but it was there before. Perhaps Col Evil would not be surprised to be told that he would "operate with contested airspace above him" etc etc. He might be a little put-off by tactical digital HQs.

Things have evolved on the conventional side and perhaps I am glossing over some areas, but I don't think its been a true revolution.

As for courses, AOC covers the spectrum. The centre of mass, at least when I was DS circa 2015 to 2017, was conventional operations. There was, however, a stability operation and a domestic operation. Our TO&Es were grounded in reality but given a little boost. So we had Javelins in the infantry companies and TUA in the BG/Bde depending on the Tutorial. The Armoured Regiment had four Sqns of tanks etc. Certainly not the fantasy of Corps 86, but neither an exact copy of the army of the moment. The mind-set I tried to create was that of relentless excellence in tactical planning at the BG and CMBG level. Planning for anything. Based on feedback from operations as well as personal observations I am very happy with the results.
 

Kirkhill

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I think the 1989 Reconnaissance Strike Complex was known as an Armored Cavalry Regiment???

And I am pretty sure we were told to expect to be dodging Mig 21s and Su 24s and suchlike because our air forces would be busy on deep strikes.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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An example of doctrine being implemented very painfully in practice is the Israeli experience of Systemic Operational Design (SOD) in the 2006 Lebanon War. There are many reasons why the Israelis were not successful, but fuzzy new doctrine that was not understood by the people trying to execute it was one of them. "We were caught unprepared" is a good read on the subject. The father of SOD proclaimed that it "was not intended for ordinary mortals." Unfortunately, wars are fought by ordinary mortals at 0300 hrs without the time or inclination to read French post-modernist philosophy (apparently SOD was informed by post-modern French philosophy). Whether or not it could be understood was also moot as Hezbollah proved a little more resilient.

While this was part of what compelled Mattis to reject EBO, others doubled down as true believers are wont to do.

When someone tries to sell me on the virtues of design I back away very slowly.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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I think the 1989 Reconnaissance Strike Complex was known as an Armored Cavalry Regiment???

And I am pretty sure we were told to expect to be dodging Mig 21s and Su 24s and suchlike because our air forces would be busy on deep strikes.
It was the Soviet conception of a system of sensors, C2 and strike assets with a high level of automation and speed.
 

blacktriangle

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As for courses, AOC covers the spectrum. The centre of mass, at least when I was DS circa 2015 to 2017, was conventional operations. There was, however, a stability operation and a domestic operation. Our TO&Es were grounded in reality but given a little boost. So we had Javelins in the infantry companies and TUA in the BG/Bde depending on the Tutorial. The Armoured Regiment had four Sqns of tanks etc. Certainly not the fantasy of Corps 86, but neither an exact copy of the army of the moment. The mind-set I tried to create was that of relentless excellence in tactical planning at the BG and CMBG level. Planning for anything. Based on feedback from operations as well as personal observations I am very happy with the results.
If you are able, can you explain the rationale behind "boosted" TO&Es in tutorials? Just curious - thanks!
 

TangoTwoBravo

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If you are able, can you explain the rationale behind "boosted" TO&Es in tutorials? Just curious - thanks!
You consider what would realistically be added to a Canadian BG or CMBG in a war setting. It allows the students to plan with systems that they could realistically have in that situation. You can take that too far - the old Corps 86 would be too far. Adding Javelins to infantry battalions sent to a conventional conflict, though, is realistic in my view. AOC's TO&Es are absolutely based in doctrine with real equipment: Leopard 2s, LAVs, M777s etc.
 

FJAG

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An example of doctrine being implemented very painfully in practice is the Israeli experience of Systemic Operational Design (SOD) in the 2006 Lebanon War. There are many reasons why the Israelis were not successful, but fuzzy new doctrine that was not understood by the people trying to execute it was one of them. "We were caught unprepared" is a good read on the subject. The father of SOD proclaimed that it "was not intended for ordinary mortals." Unfortunately, wars are fought by ordinary mortals at 0300 hrs without the time or inclination to read French post-modernist philosophy (apparently SOD was informed by post-modern French philosophy). Whether or not it could be understood was also moot as Hezbollah proved a little more resilient.

While this was part of what compelled Mattis to reject EBO, others doubled down as true believers are wont to do.

When someone tries to sell me on the virtues of design I back away very slowly.
Mercifully at that time I was into legal and computer stuff and mercifully ignored (actually never heard of) SOD.

Just looked at an abstract on SOD from Leavenworth in 2005. :eek:

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Kirkhill

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You consider what would realistically be added to a Canadian BG or CMBG in a war setting. It allows the students to plan with systems that they could realistically have in that situation. You can take that too far - the old Corps 86 would be too far. Adding Javelins to infantry battalions sent to a conventional conflict, though, is realistic in my view. AOC's TO&Es are absolutely based in doctrine with real equipment: Leopard 2s, LAVs, M777s etc.

So the staff recognize the need for systems that will be necessary for the current forces to operate on the contemporary battlefield and trust that the politicians will buy them, the logisticians will supply them, the maintainers will prepare them, the soldiers will operate them and the commanders will know how to employ them to their greatest effect?

And I know the problem is not with the instructional staff, at least not in the procurement realm, but should instruction be based on hope?

On the other hand at least effort is being expended to assist the commanders to employ systems that they might find themselves allocated.

Someone upthread made comment about CQs dropping off C16s and wondering what the field commander would do with them, seemingly suggesting that the arrival would come as a surprise to the commander rather than as part of a briefed plan. This was in response to my suggestion that the arms locker concept can be met by keeping the locker in the CQ, or even at Battalion. Now I begin to suspect that the combat commanders must become sufficiently flexible as to incorporate whatever weapons system they find the supply system has decided to deliver today.

Oh, look! ATGMs! Christmas!

Sorry T2B. My cynicism makes me sarcastic and sometimes I give it free rein.

It was the Soviet conception of a system of sensors, C2 and strike assets with a high level of automation and speed.

Thanks for giving me the provenance. I wasn't aware of that.

My thoughts on the Reconnaissance Strike Complex were prompted by the currently deployment of the Deep Strike Brigade which to me looks like a Divisional Support Brigade combining the old Divisional Recce Regiment with the Divisional Artillery. That in turn reminded me of the US Armored Cavalry construct of Corps Regiments, and Divisional Squadrons (and, if memory serves, Army Divisions), which were permanently integrated, at the sub-unit level, combined arms teams of scouts, infantry, tanks and artillery thereby attempting to shorten the decision making loop as much as possible through training and familiarity.


I appreciate that the analogy is poor but it does seem that there is some sympathy for the revival of the US style Armored Cavalry construct as an attempt to balance penny-packeting of tanks to meet screening requirements while maintaining useful masses to launch thrusts.

Edit to add that the Cavalry combined arms team also include air assets.
 

daftandbarmy

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Well, thank goodness the Yanks are coming out with their new Army doctrine soon so we can follow along, as per SOP :)


New US Army doctrine coming summer 2022​


The Army is expected to release its new doctrine, one that describes how the service will operate in the future across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, in summer 2022, Lt. Gen. D. Scott McKean, the director of the Army Futures and Concepts Center under Army Futures Command, told Defense News in a March 15 virtual event.

The doctrine cements the Army’s developing warfighting concept it has coined Multidomain Operations — or MDO — that addresses the Army’s role in potential conflict with near-peer adversaries in a time of great power competition — namely with China and Russia.
That means the field manual, which currently addresses unified land operations, will transform into a field manual addressing operations across all domains for the first time in the Army’s history.

The service has come out with versions of its MDO concept as it moves to craft its doctrine over the past several years. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense News in an interview last fall that getting the concept into doctrine form would take several more years, but he stressed that the service was not waiting for the concept to become doctrine before moving out on transforming the force with MDO as the guiding light.

McKean stressed that even as doctrine, multidomain operations will evolve as needed.
When the document comes out “will everything in the concept be in there? No, not everything is ready yet,” McKean said. The Army will continue to wargame and conduct experiments even after the doctrine’s initial publication.

But, “what you will see in the immediate term is investment in force structure changes, whether we need to change an organization to be better able to employ the technologies that we are developing as we look at the doctrine and how we might fight differently,” McKean said. “We can look at the command-and-control aspects and echelons of command, you know, where things are led from. And so lots of work in this field, it’s constant but everything is feeding it and the relationships are allowing it to move out at a really good pace.”

McKean noted that the Combined Arms Center, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is now in direct support of Army Futures Command and that relationship has allowed him and the center’s commander to become directly involved in the process. Both the CAC’s commander and McKean sit in on each other’s meetings related to the effort.

 

TangoTwoBravo

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So the staff recognize the need for systems that will be necessary for the current forces to operate on the contemporary battlefield and trust that the politicians will buy them, the logisticians will supply them, the maintainers will prepare them, the soldiers will operate them and the commanders will know how to employ them to their greatest effect?

And I know the problem is not with the instructional staff, at least not in the procurement realm, but should instruction be based on hope?

On the other hand at least effort is being expended to assist the commanders to employ systems that they might find themselves allocated.

Someone upthread made comment about CQs dropping off C16s and wondering what the field commander would do with them, seemingly suggesting that the arrival would come as a surprise to the commander rather than as part of a briefed plan. This was in response to my suggestion that the arms locker concept can be met by keeping the locker in the CQ, or even at Battalion. Now I begin to suspect that the combat commanders must become sufficiently flexible as to incorporate whatever weapons system they find the supply system has decided to deliver today.

Oh, look! ATGMs! Christmas!

Sorry T2B. My cynicism makes me sarcastic and sometimes I give it free rein.



Thanks for giving me the provenance. I wasn't aware of that.

My thoughts on the Reconnaissance Strike Complex were prompted by the currently deployment of the Deep Strike Brigade which to me looks like a Divisional Support Brigade combining the old Divisional Recce Regiment with the Divisional Artillery. That in turn reminded me of the US Armored Cavalry construct of Corps Regiments, and Divisional Squadrons (and, if memory serves, Army Divisions), which were permanently integrated, at the sub-unit level, combined arms teams of scouts, infantry, tanks and artillery thereby attempting to shorten the decision making loop as much as possible through training and familiarity.


I appreciate that the analogy is poor but it does seem that there is some sympathy for the revival of the US style Armored Cavalry construct as an attempt to balance penny-packeting of tanks to meet screening requirements while maintaining useful masses to launch thrusts.

Edit to add that the Cavalry combined arms team also include air assets.
I think you are blending your equipment comments from the Force 2025 thread. Everyone needs to understand how to employ the weapons they have - the level and nature of that understanding change depending on the level. The soldier who will be firing the weapon needs to intimately understand its employment to include the hands-on stuff. That person needs a course or PO from a course that has the actual system. The company commander and battalion commander need to now its capabilities and how to best employ at at their level. I was entirely comfortable with our course including ALAWS (Javelin) in our training orbat.

The interwar German army did not start to consider how to employ armour after they started acquiring tanks. They began before that. You can take that idea too far, but making the assumption that the army will acquire a man-portable system for which they already had a project is a safer bet than assuming we would acquire MLRS or attack helicopters on a six-month horizon. We did not have Canadian air defence, for instance in our training orbats. As the Canadian Army rebuilds its GBAD we may see that changed to allow officers to wrap their heads around it.

The old Soviet Reconnaissance Strike Complex is a typical Soviet term that makes the simple sound complex (and sexy - is that complexy?) Linking sensors with shooters and a decision-maker has been a thing since indirect fire came about. The automated part, though, is interesting as is the integration into one unit. If we are separating the "manouevre" HQ that owns the terrain from the decision-making on a fires unit using its own sensors to find and kill things then we need to make sure that we very clear targeting direction as well as iron-clad control measures. We have control measures that make such things possible, but in my view the strike assets that would be used in such circumstances would be rather valuable and the Comd would want some control. Anyhoo.

I am a graduate of the US Army Cavalry Leader's Course. Their ACRs and Div Cav Sqns were tied to Corps and Divisions in the security role. ACRs were completely self-contained while the Div Cav only required tube artillery support (but had their own mortars in the Troops and had OH58Ds at Sqn level). In the old construct they did not have Brigade recce, as Div was fighting the battle and brigades were essentially close combat bulldogs attacking things as directed by the Div. The move to BCTs has placed traditional US Army Cavalry in a no-man's land. If the Div and Corps become more important then perhaps more traditional Cavalry will come back.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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Well, thank goodness the Yanks are coming out with their new Army doctrine soon so we can follow along, as per SOP :)


New US Army doctrine coming summer 2022​


The Army is expected to release its new doctrine, one that describes how the service will operate in the future across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, in summer 2022, Lt. Gen. D. Scott McKean, the director of the Army Futures and Concepts Center under Army Futures Command, told Defense News in a March 15 virtual event.

The doctrine cements the Army’s developing warfighting concept it has coined Multidomain Operations — or MDO — that addresses the Army’s role in potential conflict with near-peer adversaries in a time of great power competition — namely with China and Russia.
That means the field manual, which currently addresses unified land operations, will transform into a field manual addressing operations across all domains for the first time in the Army’s history.

The service has come out with versions of its MDO concept as it moves to craft its doctrine over the past several years. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Defense News in an interview last fall that getting the concept into doctrine form would take several more years, but he stressed that the service was not waiting for the concept to become doctrine before moving out on transforming the force with MDO as the guiding light.

McKean stressed that even as doctrine, multidomain operations will evolve as needed.
When the document comes out “will everything in the concept be in there? No, not everything is ready yet,” McKean said. The Army will continue to wargame and conduct experiments even after the doctrine’s initial publication.

But, “what you will see in the immediate term is investment in force structure changes, whether we need to change an organization to be better able to employ the technologies that we are developing as we look at the doctrine and how we might fight differently,” McKean said. “We can look at the command-and-control aspects and echelons of command, you know, where things are led from. And so lots of work in this field, it’s constant but everything is feeding it and the relationships are allowing it to move out at a really good pace.”

McKean noted that the Combined Arms Center, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is now in direct support of Army Futures Command and that relationship has allowed him and the center’s commander to become directly involved in the process. Both the CAC’s commander and McKean sit in on each other’s meetings related to the effort.

It is a big change, including an apparent shift back to Div and Corps level operations vs the BCT focus of the recent past. The formation of Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTFs) to counter Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) at theatre level is interesting.

Canada has been talking about Pan-Domain operations, although of course our requirements and capabilities are a little different. While the US military is seized with countering A2AD, I am not sure that Canada would be the one making the penetration of those defences? We still have to think how and where we would, or would not, nest with that. If we are going to work with the US Army (or US military in general), we need to understand how they would operate. While I suppose we could work with any of the five proposed MDTFs, the Arctic one is something that we should absolutely understand how we might fit in.

Regarding allied doctrine, one of my colleagues suggested that Canada is destined to be the minor partner in an alliance, using the ancient Roman use of allies as an example. Do we want to be allies that speak the same doctrinal language as the major partner and be integrated into their plans, or foreign auxiliaries that do not speak their doctrinal language and get employed as such?

Having said that, culture eats strategy (and doctrine) for breakfast.
 

daftandbarmy

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It is a big change, including an apparent shift back to Div and Corps level operations vs the BCT focus of the recent past. The formation of Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTFs) to counter Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) at theatre level is interesting.

Canada has been talking about Pan-Domain operations, although of course our requirements and capabilities are a little different. While the US military is seized with countering A2AD, I am not sure that Canada would be the one making the penetration of those defences? We still have to think how and where we would, or would not, nest with that. If we are going to work with the US Army (or US military in general), we need to understand how they would operate. While I suppose we could work with any of the five proposed MDTFs, the Arctic one is something that we should absolutely understand how we might fit in.

Regarding allied doctrine, one of my colleagues suggested that Canada is destined to be the minor partner in an alliance, using the ancient Roman use of allies as an example. Do we want to be allies that speak the same doctrinal language as the major partner and be integrated into their plans, or foreign auxiliaries that do not speak their doctrinal language and get employed as such?

Having said that, culture eats strategy (and doctrine) for breakfast.

I think we should be like a modern version of the Swiss of old, of course, which coincidentally is another confederated state :)


The Swiss Pikemen​


"The Swiss are well-armed and very free." - Niccolo Machiavelli


"According to medieval sources, these guys were so badass that they could move at a dead-run while maintaining perfect shoulder-to-shoulder formation, attack in any direction, defend against attack from any side, and sprint through forests, over trenches, and up hills in order to plow into their enemies with a five-pike-deep wall of pointy deathiness."

 

OldSolduer

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I think we should be like a modern version of the Swiss of old, of course, which coincidentally is another confederated state :)

"According to medieval sources, these guys were so badass that they could move at a dead-run while maintaining perfect shoulder-to-shoulder formation, attack in any direction, defend against attack from any side, and sprint through forests, over trenches, and up hills in order to plow into their enemies with a five-pike-deep wall of pointy deathiness."
Well maybe THEY can defend themselves against a man armed with a banana. :ROFLMAO:
 

FJAG

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... Regarding allied doctrine, one of my colleagues suggested that Canada is destined to be the minor partner in an alliance, using the ancient Roman use of allies as an example. Do we want to be allies that speak the same doctrinal language as the major partner and be integrated into their plans, or foreign auxiliaries that do not speak their doctrinal language and get employed as such?

Having said that, culture eats strategy (and doctrine) for breakfast.
Just so happens I'm rereading the McCullough "Masters of Rome" series. It's notable that Rome's Latin and Italian allies equipped and organized and trained their legions in exactly the same way as the Romans did at any given time in history. That created a cohesive central core of whatever force was brought together.

On the other hand, auxiliary troops such as cavalry, slingers and archers were generally equipped, organized and trained in whichever manner the supplying country was familiar with. They were directed by Roman leaders to conform to the tactical plan but were led by and fought under their own leadership in their own styles.

There's a lesson in that somewhere.

:unsure:
 
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